Are “they” ready for Cloud Computing?
By: Bob McMillen
My wife and I have a running joke anytime we see a piece of news about something “they” say. “They” say that if you take vitamins everyday then….Who are “they?” No one ever sees who “they” are, but we apparently trust them implicitly. Well, last weekend I met “they.” At least the “they” sayers in the computer industry, that is.
I was invited to Dallas to see all the new computer software and hardware that “they” are dreaming up for the big Cloud Computing transition that we are all going to eventually be a part of, whether we like it or not. Every “they” was there, including the folks from IBM, Microsoft, Symantec, McAfee, Intel, Oracle, EMC, and dozens more.
Cloud computing is the transition of data from being locally held at your home or office to being kept at data centers worldwide and accessible via the internet. It doesn’t really matter where the data is, as long as it’s accessible, according to “they.” The data can also be replicated and synchronized so if the data is somehow lost at one location, you wouldn’t even realize it because you would automatically start using it from another.
“They” naysayers tell us that this can be a good thing, but we are rushing into this transition without thinking about the consequences of security for our data. Who has this data? How is it being backed up? What if that data center goes out of business, or is hijacked by bad guys? These are just a few of the questions businesses are having. There have been several famous Cloudtastrophes that I have mentioned in the past, but I still believe this is ultimately a good idea, if implemented correctly.
I flew into Dallas after heading to the Portland airport at 4 AM last Sunday. It was 105 degrees by mid afternoon. Fortunately for us, we were in a climate controlled mega hotel that had an atrium larger than two football fields. It was an amazing piece of engineering that we could be in a giant atrium that felt like you were outside, but without all that nasty heat and humidity. During the four day stay I had no reason to go anywhere outside the building because everything I needed was right there. The organizers knew this so they had us in meetings within two hours of landing at the airport all the way until 7 that night.
The next two days were spent in 14 hours of meetings and appointments with all the different vendors. The topic of the conference was Cloud Computing, so I was all jazzed up to see what was new. We offer some hosted services in our business and I wanted to see some new hosting ideas I could offer our customers.
I also got to see some interesting speakers. Besides the industry leaders that most people have never heard of, I got to see Mark Cuban, of TV and basketball fame, speak. He was a computer guy a couple of decades ago, and started his own business. He sold a couple of them and made enough money to buy the Dallas Mavericks, among other things. I also got to hear from Don Yaeger, who is a famous sports columnist. He didn’t have much to do with technology, but it was fun to hear him speak about beating Michael Jordan in a fluke game of one-on-one at a charity event.
By the time I had heard from all of the vendors I came to see and some new ones that have joined the party in recent years, one very obvious conclusion came to mind: “They” are nowhere near ready for the Cloud. The largest manufacturers of technology from all over the world are not ready for us to join the Cloud. The main things any of them had to offer were the same applications we’ve been using for years, but licensed in a new way. Instead of paying $1,000 for a piece of software and then buying the upgrade a couple of years later, you could now just rent the software in perpetuity at $50 per month. Support and upgrades were included, but if you stopped paying for it, then you could no longer use it.
That was it. There was nothing new “they” could show me. They could have sent me that information in an email, or even a 140 character Tweet. Twitter was newer than most of what “they” were trying to sell us.
The rush to the cloud is more likely going to be a bit of a slog. Businesses say it’s now the second most important thing on their minds next to server virtualization, but they have no idea how they’re going to get there. We will get there, and like a slow moving slide of mud we won’t be able to stop it or change its direction. The mud will keep going and going until it accomplishes what it set out to do. Cloud Computing is just the wrong terminology. I vote we rename it to “Mudslide Computing.”
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